Mercedes boss Toto Wolff, has admitted that the weight of their silver arrow F1 car needs to be improved, as the team bid to bounce back against a Ferrari revival.
Four time champion Seb Vettel triumphed in Melbourne, after Lewis Hamilton’s Mercedes car struggled for tyre longevity. The Merc driver complained about tyre ‘degradation’, as problems of old came back to haunt Mercedes, but now it appears that the weight of the car is equally to blame.
The FIA increased the minimum weight for this year due to the changes in regulations, which saw the minimum limit now set at a chunky 728kg. Engine’s have been beefed up to last four races each as opposed to the 5 in 2016, and the larger tyres also add a significant amount of weight.
Mercedes are believed to be quite a way above this minimum weight limit, and the extra kilo’s not only cost lap time but also restrict the positioning of all important ballast on the car. More weight on the tyres as well… yep you got it.
While Toto Wolff stopped short of confirming that the car was 5kg over the minimum weight target, he did confirm that car weight is an area in which the team need to focus on.
“I don’t want to go too much into detail but it’s an area we can definitely improve,” explained Wolff.
“With new regulations and the size of the cars, you need to balance out all the time between performance parts and the weight. And that’s an ongoing exercise which we are doing.”
Mercedes is not the only team that have struggled with their weight limit this year. Red Bull are understood to be right on the limit too, largely down to having to run the 2016 Renault MGU-K. Weight is also considered to be one reason why Red Bull abandoned plans for a more complex suspension setup after the FIA clarification on matter, as the additional weight to the car was starting to creep up.
Big Bob from Force India, says they too have suffered concerns over the weight of their car. He told Motorsport.com.
“We’re already okay from a weight point.
“We’re actually underweight but we’re not enough underweight, so by Bahrain we will have enough of a variance there to be able to get the ballast where we want it. It’s only a ballast issue.”
With Force India admitting to issues too, did the Mercedes power unit gain a few Kg’s over the winter? Secondly, will the drivers turn up in China looking like a shadow of their former selves? This wouldn’t be the first time that teams have asked the drivers to help out in this way.